For the more punctilious readers of Jake.news, it is probably apparent from the photo above that I was not able to achieve my 2019 goal of running 1000 miles. No, indeed I fell short by exactly 181.3 miles. For those who perused this update, the injury that I mentioned ended up being a core muscle injury coupled with bi-lateral inguinal hernias. So, yeah, it took more than an little PT to fix that problem. I opted for a surgical repair, which occurred mid-December (a/k/a six days ago). I’m very glad to be on the other side of that event, and on the way to recovery. I still won’t be able to run for a while. But by the time the weather warms up, if all else goes according to plan, I should be able to start logging some easy miles again. I have guaranteed entry to the upcoming NY Marathon in November. I’m told that it should be a possibility. So that’s what I’ll be working toward … from scratch. Happy New Year!
This update is not a rosy as the first two from March and July respectively. The last couple weeks of July, I started experiencing a lot of pain after runs. Eventually the pain was too much to run at all. A visit to the ortho doc confirmed that I was injured. I’m still working with a PT on recovery. It has been over eight weeks without any running, and I’m definitely going a bit nuts. In the meantime, cycling does not cause any pain or aggravate the injury. So I’m trying to supplement my cardio with some miles on the bike to stay in shape. Unfortunately, I find that I have to do about 4x as many miles to burn the same amount of calories as running. It is super time consuming. Cycling is definitely a lot more fun though. So I’m taking the good with the bad.
I have logged 818 running miles on the year. So, to the extent that I can start running again by November 1, it is possible that I can still hit my 1000 mile goal for the year. Fingers crossed.
This post is just an accountability update from my report at the end of March, where I announced to the innanetz my running goal to hit 1000 miles this year. Unfortunately, I got sick of running midway through April and gave up on that goal. I’m totally kidding about the ‘giving up’ stuff. To date, I have not fallen short of my 25m/week goal, nor have I had a month wherein I did not exceed the 100m/month goal. I have all of these mini goals to thank for keeping me on track for the 1000 mile goal.
For this quarter, I decided to do some races. I have kept them all short and sweet. The shortest has been 5k, and the longest, 10k. Running these distances in a competitive setting a couple weekends per month has proven to be incredibly fun. Since I don’t really have expectations, or (for the most part) anyone waiting at the finish line, the pressure to do well has been incredibly low. I have always loved the energy of road racing. To be honest, the NY and Chicago marathons are tied for the time I experiences the most euphoric ‘runner’s high.’ The beauty of running these shorties (esp the Central Park ones), is that I’m generally done, showered and, home ready for the rest of the day by 10 AM. And I mean, since I’m doing a few races, may as well do the 9+1 next year’s NY Marathon, right? I thought so, too. Two races to go.
What I have learned about myself and running in the past 90 days:
- Cold weather running, while harder to get motivated about and requires more gear, is much easier on the bod. Running in the heat hurts a lot more and takes longer to recover from. In the past, I had always quit running once it started to get cold, and would pick up again once it got warm. This year is the first time that I have ever experienced the sharp contrast between the two seasons.
- Consistency is key. I have done a million different training programs for a million different races. Not until I had this 25/m per week goal, has running ever truly been a part of my routine and felt easy.
- Ambiance is nice. One of the things that turned me onto running in the first place, is enjoying all of the scenery and things happening around me. I found it much less boring than the gym. For a long time I was not able to run with music, because I would sweat-to- death every device (early MP3 players, iPod nanos, you name it) that I brought running with me. I also hated the headphone cable being constantly glued to me with my own sweat. Since the advent of waterproof bluetooth headphones, life has been different. While I now run with music a lot (esp if I have a new playlist or need some extra motivation), I still enjoy switching it up and going no-jams a few times per week.
- Stretching, rolling and strength training is necessary for old guys. I never did this conditioning/flexibility crap when I was younger. I eventually had knee problems in my 30s when my IT bands started to calcify. A few months of recovery PT taught me some habits that I still employ. Even though I don’t stretch after every run, I do at least every other time. I also foam roll my ITs, glutes and lower back once per week. I mix in strength training whenever it is too rainy outside to run.
- Sleep is important. It doesn’t seem like is was as much of a factor when I was younger, but I definitely notice a huge difference these days when I don’t get a solid sleep before a run.
If I was perfectly on track with my goal right now, I would be at 500 miles for the year. As it stands, I broke the 700 mile mark last weekend. I’m feeling okay about the whole situation and enjoying running as much as I ever have. Crossing my fingers and toes that I’m not somehow jinxing myself by publishing any of this nonsense. Knock on wood that I can stay healthy and injury free for the rest of the year (and the rest of my life, haha). Hey, shoot for the moon, land in the starts, right?
Guys, it seems like I might have become serious about running again. I have always been such a fair weather runner that there is at least one occasion in the last 18 months where I skipped a destination marathon (having already arrived at the destination) because of crappy weather. Around October of last year, I told myself that I was going to go ahead and try to run through the winter this time. This was not because I had delusions of grandeur that my middle aged self was about to unleash the record breaking runner that cold weather had always been stifling. It was more a result of the fact that I had finally joined a gym that was very close to my office and also very close to Central Park.
Prior to joining the gym (for my first time ever) my biggest obstacle to winter running was the fact that I was relegated to running either before or after work. This is no problem in the summer months. It gets light at 5:30 AM and dark at 9:30. Run at 5:30 AM and you can get those cooler 70 degree temps, then still have a few mins after the shower to stop sweating before putting on office attire. After work in the summer, also awesome. No sun equals no problem when the temps are headed back into the comfort zone from the oppressively hot zone. But in the winter…. forget about it. I’m not going to wake up extra early and get out of bed when it is pitch black and 15 degrees outside to run in the howling wind. Kudos to those who can do that. I know plenty of people who think that I’m a weakling with no self control for admitting as much. To those people I say, “you are probably right, and I wish I was more like you.”
Okay, so back to the subject. Running through winter was a daunting idea that I was really wary of. I had basically accepted the fact that after autumn races, I would stop running, put on excess body mass all winter and sort it out in the spring. The latter part of the aforementioned task becomes increasingly difficult as my age number ticks northward. So there I was last fall, already uncomfortable with the amount of body blah I was dealing with. For the record, last year was the first time in a while that I had not been training for a fall race. I don’t doubt that the lack of summer/fall training miles fueled my desire to get fit over the winter months.
As 2019 was approaching, I thought long and hard about what my fitness goals would be. I mean, dude, I’m getting slower not faster. I wasn’t about to set a goal to get a PR marathon (or any distance) or some other plausibly unrealistic goal. So instead, I decided that I was going to log 1000 miles in 2019. The last time I did this was exactly 10 years ago in 2009. The decade of separation was another reason that I felt like it was an appropriate time to bring back the 1 year/1k goal. I wanted to focus on logging miles, not being fast, or training for races, or any of that other stuff.
Doing basic math, a person only has to run 3ish miles per day to log 1k miles in a year. As a person whose schedule rarely allows me run every day of the week, thinking about it in those terms sounded daunting. Once I broke it down to weekly increments, much less so. 21 miles in seven days? No problem. Realistically, in the winter I’m not going to run less than 5 miles if I’m going to go through the trouble of putting on all of the gear. I mean, Shakespeare and his men didn’t put on tights for a 20 minute dip out-and-back. Another helpful fact is that one loop around central park is about 6.25 miles counting the entry and exit from 59th Street.
When thinking about a weekly goal, I also wanted to account for the inevitable fact that I will most likely have a sick day or two, as well as the possibility of injury. Further, there is bound to be some occasions when I’m traveling, etc., when running will just not be practical (like I said, not hardcore). In order to account for those days, I pegged my weekly level at 25 miles per week. Breaking that down, if I could get 4 laps in CP during the work week…. done. And if I can’t, I have the weekend make up the difference.
I’m happy to report that at the end of the first quarter, I’m ahead of my mileage goal, and I have experienced some peripheral benefits along the way. First: my pace per mile has dropped roughly one minute since last Nov. This is without even doing any speed work at all, or really even pushing myself on runs. I’m still nowhere close to where I was in 2009. But it feels like I’m not completely sucking at running! Second: I have managed to drop bit of that body blah. Knocking on wood that I can keep the drive alive and have an equally positive Q2 update to post on July 1.
Here is where my next level nerditude comes out. Embedded below is my mile tracker (updated daily)–
In my personal and very biased opinion, the only thing better than running the NYC Marathon, is watching the NYC Marathon. Since I didn’t get in this year, and would have been too out of shape to run anyway, I opted for the latter. The weather was perfect. I had some cameras with me, as did my homey A-Raj (he was rocking a large format film rig). B came out with the dog. We cheered on friends and strangers, then had a really nice brunch afterward. Here are some snaps.
Even though it is March and the days are getting longer, it still 100% feels like winter out there. Despite the temps, B and I forced ourselves to be out and about last week. Thursday night we hit the Retna opening at Chase Contemporary. I have been a fan of his for a while. Here is a sample of his Bowery wall mural, as I saw it in March 2012. Anyway, we saw some equally awesome stuff at the gallery opening on Thurs.
That being said, I kind of feel bad for anyone who opened an exhibition last week in NYC, because the town was all abuzz with the fact that Banksy was back in North America and had put some work in NYC. So much hype that even the local news covered it, hahahaha. Lordy, it was like listening to a couple of elderly ladies talking about “the grime raps” or something. Speaking of the Bowery Mural, B*nksy has turned it into his latest propaganda piece.
I haven’t made it over to see that one yet. But we did wander into Chelsea to look at the rat. Here are a couple of snaps, along with a couple of my faves from the Retna opening.
Aaaaand finally, B and I both ran the NYC half on Sunday. It was a new course, starting in Prospect Park, ending in Central Park. The course went over the Manhattan Bridge, which was awesome for me since I mix that bridge into most of my longer runs anyway. The difference being that I usually have it to myself instead of sharing it with 20k other runners. Back to the weather…. this was probably the coldest race I have ever run. It was fine, once I finally got going and the sun came up. But man, waiting for it to start was brutal! New course is amazing. B got a PR. Overall, a really decent day. Here is a crappy pic from my celly of my fellow runners freezing their booties off in Prospect Park.
The marathon was especially exciting this year because an American woman won for the first time since 1977. It was also cool because I was able to reconnect with a couple of my friends from high school (one is in the last two photos below). For consistency’s sake, we watched the race from the exact same spot as last year. The photo above is almost identical to the one from last year, haha. The whole thing makes me very stoked to run Philly later this month.
This was one of those times where I got so distracted by life that I didn’t even realize it was going to be a 3 day weekend until last Friday. I wasn’t at all upset when I realized that Monday was Columbus day. Saturday I completed my 11th marathon. My post-finish photo to the left is courtesy of B. It was also my first race since I had ligament reconstruction on my ankle. Even though I felt pretty good on Sunday morning, I was definitely happy to have Monday as a bonus recovery day.
B didn’t waste any time giving me a honey-do list on Monday since I was going to be around the house all day. One of the items on the list was to hang a couple of skate decks (above) that had been stacked in the corner for several weeks now.
One additional mention-worthy-item is that the weather has officially turned fallish. Driving back from Hartford on Sunday there were a lot of leaves that had already changed colors in western Connecticut near Danbury. Monday, the high temp in NYC was still cool enough to be deemed hoodie weather. I’m pretty excited about that. The in between seasons are definitely my favorite.
Lastly: my second favorite BBC1 DJ, Phil Taggart put on a fantastic session Sunday night. I’m linking to it here (avail for 30 days, only).
This is a kind of long and personal story about a race I ran last Sunday. The story actually starts several years ago. In a former life, I was a very avid runner. Everything from vacation schedules to weekly social activities revolved around running. I have never been exceptionally fast, or anything like that. But running was a hobby that I dedicated a lot of time and energy to. As I started to rack up races, I thought it would be cool to run 10 marathons.
By the end of 2011 I had completed nine marathon finishes, including NYC (twice). I was on a roll. During this process, I qualified for the 2012 New York City Marathon. When late October 2012 rolled around I was all trained up and ready to go. About that time, Hurricane Sandy came through and wrecked up this whole region causing the city to cancel the race. I wholeheartedly agree that cancelling the race was the correct decision. Even so, it was more than a bit disheartening for me to have put in so much work without being able to enjoy the reward. Since it was to be my 10th, I was determined to make this marathon really count. I had high hopes for a new PR. I had invited family to come from out of town. They made it as far as DC (from Alaska).
After the decision was made to cancel the race, they offered all of the would-be participants automatic entry to any one of NYC Marathons in the following three years. The let-down from 2012 caused me to have a lot of introspection relating to the way that running had basically consumed all of my free time. The hobby was especially time consuming when I was training for something and I was almost always training for something. I concluded that I would take a break from competing (against myself [I have never been fast enough to compete for real]), and just enjoy running. So I chose to use my automatic entry for 2014. I did run some races in 2013. But I ran with my friends for fun, and did minimal (if any) training.
When 2014 cropped up, I was ready to buckle down again and get serious about putting forth an honest effort that November. Since I had become very out of shape, I decided to start training in early summer. I had dropped a few LBs and started to pick up the pace by September. This is also when I crashed my moto, partially severing my left quadricep muscle. As one could imagine, the injury made walking quite difficult for a while and running was virtually impossible. Even though I had mostly recovered from the injury by the end of October, I had missed the most crucial weeks of training. I decided to cancel my entry to the race, seek a medical deferment and try again in 2015.
FF to 2015>> Almost every aspect of my life has changed since 2012. I have a different job. I live in a different neighborhood. I have a new partner in crime. I’m feeling generally more balanced and content with life. As I began training for the race this year, the idea of finishing a 10th marathon evolved into a symbolic mile marker (pun intended) for me. I saw it as a sort of capstone on transitioning to a different phase of life. This understandably probably sounds very corny. Just the same, I felt like those aspects of my life that I had been chasing since the beginning of 2012 had finally started to fall into place. In my mind, being able to finish this race would be a tangible piece of evidence of this.
I put together a 19 week training program. It wasn’t perfect. I missed some runs. But I had a good network of friends helping me stay accountable. Ultimately, even though I didn’t get back into perfect shape, I was able to get into viable marathon shape. A few weeks before the race I did an 18 mile race on a flat course and ended up inadvertently pacing about a quarter of a minute per mile faster than I had intended. This gave me a lot of confidence going into the end of October. The last few days before the race I was having a lot of anxiety. I hadn’t trained on hills at all. I was second guessing how well I would be able to keep my pace over the Queensboro Bridge, and up 1st Ave. And blah blah blah, this story is getting too long.
Paul Harvey-style, here is the rest of the story: Sunday morning November 1st came along, I woke up at 4:45 (thanks to daylight savings, it only felt like 5:45). I put on my sneaks and made the short walk to the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Battery Park. As soon as the ferry set sail, all of my anxiety faded very quickly. I was there on this giant orange boat with runners from all over the world. Various languages could be heard conversing in low voices about what we were all about to undertake. I watched my fellow marathoners, sharing bananas, texting loved ones and gramming the Statue of Liberty. All of this while we glided in unison over the calm grey predawn harbor toward the starting line. I was reminded of how this race meant so many different things to so many people. My fears of not being able to meet my self-imposed running goals transitioned into feelings of gratitude to be able to participate in such a grand event. I was also feeling grateful for all of the good things that have happened in my life since Hurricane Sandy.
My race went as well as it could have. The weather was perfect. I came out too fast (as always) and died early (as always). Along the course I saw my girlfriend cheering for me, not once, but twice. I saw friends who had come out to support, one of which snapped the photo above (thanks, Jon). Even though this course has always been traditionally slow for me, the energy was so amazing that I felt like I was winning the entire time. And even though I didn’t get a PR (or anywhere near), I did get my PR for the course. I finished a solid six minutes faster than I did last time I ran NYC.
I know that in this day and age it isn’t really a big deal to complete a marathon. For a lot of people, finishing ten is not even a great feat. But for me, when I crossed the finish line last Sunday, it was a very significant personal accomplishment. For me, it was the race of a lifetime.
Kicking off Fall with a bang. go.nike.com/28n960c